Orange Grove

Fragrant Orange Groves in Redlands, California

Orange Grove

Tales of fragrant citrus orchards have drawn me to citrus towns around the world such as Sorrento, Italy and Mallorca, Spain but it was in my home state of California that the city of Redlands delivered on the promise. Did you know that the city of Redlands was once the hub of the largest orange-producing region in the world with over 15,000 acres of citrus groves? Upon stepping out of my car in 'Early Redlands Historic Read More

sweet pea garden

Sweet Pea Gardens Will Brighten Your Day

sweet pea garden

Light and delicate, sweet pea flowers (Lathyrus odoratus) were discovered in the 17th century by Italian monk Father Francis Cupani who was traveling through the Sicilian countryside. Sweet pea flowers' pronounced yet delicate fragrance means that they are excellent for perfuming a room, and are often prettiest when placed in a simple mason jar. If you had any wonder of their scent, just think of honey sometimes with a dash of Read More

The Rose Garden includes a large collection of beautiful David Austin English Roses like these. Aren't they stunning?

South Coast Botanic Garden, Palos Verdes

The Rose Garden includes a large collection of beautiful David Austin English Roses like these. Aren't they stunning?

Palos Verdes in Los Angeles is home to a lesser-known botanic garden that is quite the hidden gem, especially in spring and summer. The 87-acre property with 2,500 species of plants from all over the world particularly excels in California native plants, many of which have colorful blooms year-round. The most notable highlights of a day at the South Coast Botanic Garden include: Small but stunning Dahlia Garden with an Read More

Close Up Wild Poppies

California Poppy Flower Super Bloom

Close Up Wild Poppies

What an incredible display of California poppies at Walker Canyon in Lake Elsinore! I arrived early in the morning with only a few people in sight and the poppies mostly closed. Scattered patches of tiny blue and purple wildflowers found their home among the poppies, which really made it feel like I had stepped into a Monet painting. With the sun bearing down as I made my way up into the hills, the poppies began opening before Read More

The La Purisma Mission is located in Lompoc, California 50 miles west of Santa Barbara, within the larger La Purisma Mission State Historic Park which spans nearly 2,000 acres. Almost a small city in itself, it is the only existing example in California of a complete Spanish Catholic mission and is thereby known as a "living history museum."

La Purisma Mission: Living History Museum

The La Purisma Mission is located in Lompoc, California 50 miles west of Santa Barbara, within the larger La Purisma Mission State Historic Park which spans nearly 2,000 acres. Almost a small city in itself, it is the only existing example in California of a complete Spanish Catholic mission and is thereby known as a "living history museum."

In Lompoc, California just 50 miles from downtown Santa Barbara is the La Purisma Mission State Historic Park which spans nearly 2,000 acres. Standing on a small fraction of that property and almost a small city in itself, is the La Purisma Mission. It is the only existing example in California of a Spanish Catholic mission and is thereby known as a living history Read More

Griffith_Observatory-south view

The Iconic Griffith Observatory

Griffith_Observatory-south view

I practically grew up at Griffith Park in Los Angeles. I remember Earth Day celebrations in the park where I planted tree saplings with my Dad, walked the forest trails and became totally mesmerized by that giant swaying ball in the Griffith Observatory lobby. Seriously, I would watch it for hours trying to decide if it was swaying from the Earth's magnetic pull or rather some machine in the ceiling. While there is much to Read More

Rutherford Hill Winery Picnic

Best Picnic in Napa

Rutherford Hill Winery Picnic

One of the best ways to soak up the scenery in Napa Valley is to have a picnic, and the best advice I can give you is to stock up at Oakville Grocery and head to one of the wineries mentioned below for some fantastic wine. Oops, did I say wine?  Lunch, I meant lunch. Oakville Grocery originally opened in 1881 and is the oldest continually operating grocery store in California. I always find fantastic new things to try, and Read More

Zebra Herd

The Giraffe Whisperer – Safari West

Zebra Herd

As the hot sun beat down, I sat on the top deck of an old diesel safari truck when a giraffe approached and stopped about two feet from my face. I lowered my camera to get a better look at him and, curious about my face, I felt his breath as he tried to get a good sniff of me. Surely he smelled the wine I had just tasted an hour earlier in Napa Valley. I’m at Safari West, an authentic African wildlife preserve in Santa Read More

Arched bridge at the Japanese Garden

Descanso Gardens

Arched bridge at the Japanese Garden

Tucked away in Los Angeles is the dreamy 150-acre public botanical garden known as Descanso Gardens. Their famed Camellia collection is the largest in North America and the gardens are also home to the remainder of a magical oak tree forest that once consumed the entire region. This spring their Japanese Garden offered cherry trees in full bloom and a sprawling lilac garden with amazingly fragrant blooms. I thought you'd enjoy Read More

Spring on the Blossom Trail 03_sq

Spring on California’s Blossom Trail

Spring on the Blossom Trail 03_sq

I recently visited the San Joaquin Valley in Central California (near Fresno) to photograph the hundreds of acres dedicated to fruit orchards known as "The Blossom Trail". Other than a small pack of adorable little 'watch dogs', the only company I had was the chirping birds and industrious bees. It was one of the prettiest mornings I can remember... the fragrance of honey in the air and flower petals covering the floor. Not to Read More

fresh berry farm on the California coast

Fresh Berry Farm on a West Coast Road Trip

fresh berry farm on the California coast

One of the great treats of a west coast road trip is the fantastic fruit stands. This one is my favorite and I can't wait to go back—that probably sounds crazy, but so be it. Their berries have such intense flavor and their shop is a welcoming break from the long drive. Located twenty miles south of Santa Cruz on the California coastal Highway 1 is the fully organic Swanton Berry Farm. They also have a second location just ten Read More

Pink lotus flower macro

Sea of Sacred Lotus Flowers in Los Angeles

Pink lotus flower macro

I recently visited the lotus flowers at Echo Park Lake in Los Angeles, a place I have happy memories of as a kid. For those of us who love flowers, this is a bit of a dream come true, especially in such an accessible and non-exotic location. The flowers are so beautiful, it's a bit surreal. Hundreds of blooms in white, pink and yellow frame your view of the lake in every direction, with ducks and paddle boats providing that Read More

1929 Duesenberg Model J LeBaron DC Phaeton

Vintage Cars at Greystone Mansion, Beverly Hills

1929 Duesenberg Model J LeBaron DC Phaeton

Always on the lookout for unique things to do in Los Angeles, I jumped at the chance to attend an afternoon at the Greystone Mansion's Concours d'Elegance. I'm not specifically a car person, but the stunning colors and curves of the collection showcased this year got me very excited. Weird, I know. Located at the Greystone Estate in Beverly Hills, the annual Concours d'Elegance continues to be one of the most exclusive Read More

California sea otter moss landing glimpse

Where to See Wild California Sea Otters

California sea otter moss landing glimpse

I recently did a road trip along the California coast and I thought others might benefit from my legwork to find the best places to spot wild sea otters. California sea otters nearly went extinct in the early 1900's due to hunters wanting their soft fur, and later the animal officially became an endangered species.  Their numbers are very slowly improving now with about 2,700 known to exist in California. These are the Read More

Lake Arrowhead_sunset over San Bernadino Mountains

Sunset over Mountains at Lake Arrowhead

Lake Arrowhead_sunset over San Bernadino Mountains

Camera: Sony NEX-3N Iso: 200 Focal Length: 28mm Aperture: f/6 Exposure Time: 1/20 On the route between Los Angeles and Lake Arrowhead, along the CA-18 Highway, you'll have several chances to soak up the sweeping vistas of San Bernardino National Forest. As I watched the fiery sun fall below the horizon, "blue hour" lasted no more than five minutes, casting a moody blue light over the mountains. It was an appropriate end Read More

crystal_cove_binocuars

Crystal Cove, Newport Coast California

crystal_cove_binocuars

The coastal California getaway known as Crystal Cove is about as hidden as it gets; driving along the Pacific Coast Highway you would never know what awaits below unless you've been there. Each year, over 25,000 visitors stay here in California's last surviving historic beach community which flourished from 1935 to 1955. It is an excellent spot for families exploring the tide pools, cocktails with friends, passing through on a Read More

treasure_island_path_laguna_montage

Favorite Gems in Laguna Beach

treasure_island_path_laguna_montage

As a California native I have always been drawn to the coast. When I first started driving in Los Angeles, I was constantly getting lost and always ending up at the beach. Between Los Angeles and San Diego we have some epic coastal scenery; it's easy to stay on the freeway and miss some of the best places! Next time you're passing through or even doing a west coast road trip, check out these coastal gems. I promise you won't Read More

best_whale_watching_california_blue_whale_tail

We Saw Five Blue Whales!

best_whale_watching_california_blue_whale_tail

This summer I found a fantastic outing with Captain Dave's Dolphin and Whale Watching Safari. I love the idea of this trip for several reasons; they have been recognized for their whale rescue efforts and have produced an award winning documentary and a great book on the subject, the tours are small in size and they take daily trips off the coast of Dana Point, California, where there are more blue whales and dolphins than Read More

Amandine-Cafe

Los Angeles Foodie Favorites – I’ll Have The Usual

Amandine-Cafe

While Los Angeles is a major hub for food lovers and new restaurants regularly open all over the city, I stand by my long-term favorites. These are the places where I always order the same mouth-watering dishes when I visit. I day dream about them.... You know exactly what I'm talking about.  Tell me in the comment section below what your favorite restaurants and dishes are. I would love to try them and expand my list Read More